A Political History of the Future

A Political History of the future is my irregular series at the political blog Lawyers, Guns & Money.  In it I discuss genre works that address progressive political issues such as inequality, labor rights, and civil rights.  I also talk about how SF constructs its future worlds on the level of politics, economics, and social organization, and how these future worlds can suggest new ways of ordering society, for good and evil.
  • Introduction - Lays out my vision for the series and includes a list of works that exemplify some of the issues I'd like to discuss. January 14th, 2018

  • Autonomous by Annalee Newitz - Newitz's 2017 debut novel imagines a world where most work is done by sentient automatons, and where the personhood of both these AIs and the humans they've displaced is inextricably linked to their market value. February 4th, 2018

  • Black Panther - How the MCU's first black-led movie builds an Afrofuturist fantasy world that grapples head-on with the question of liberal utopias, and what their responsibility is to the rest of the world. February 19th, 2018

  • Altered Carbon - Discusses the novel by Richard Morgan and the 2018 Netflix series adaptation, both about a world where personhood can be transferred from one body to another, leading to massive changes in law enforcement and economics. March 13th, 2018

  • Iain M. Banks - A discussion of Banks's Culture sequence kicking off from Paul Kincaid's 2017 biography. March 26th, 2018

  • The Expanse - In anticipation of the SyFy series's third season, a discussion of how it depicts labor issues and the exploitation of the underclass, and how these are often neglected in favor of an adventure plot. April 9th, 2018

  • The City & The City - Discusses the novel by China Miéville and the 2018 BBC miniseries adaptation, both set in a city where inhabitants "unsee" each other despite living side-by-side. May 6th, 2018

  • Space Opera by Catherynne M. Valente - On Valente's comic novel, in which humanity is forced to compete in space-Eurovision, and how very little SFF worldbuilding leaves space for art, culture, and characters who create and consume both. June 10th, 2018

  • Tacoma - Discusses the Fullbright Company's 2017 game, in which the exploration of an abandoned space station in 2088 leads to revelations about how this corporatized near-future functions, and how people can still fight back. July 9th, 2018

  • Humans - On the Channel 4/AMC TV show in which human-seeming androids take over most jobs in the service economy, and how the show's middle class focus offers some interesting riffs on a familiar premise. September 9th, 2018

  • Revenant Gun by Yoon Ha Lee - The concluding volume of Lee's Machineries of Empire trilogy gives me an excuse to discuss how these books depict totalitarianism, and the way it entraps citizens in mindsets that make it impossible to break free. September 28th, 2018

  • State Tectonics by Malka Older - Older's Centennal Cycle is a rare work of science fiction that tries to imagine the future of democracy, and how the pitfalls currently afflicting it might be addressed by technology. November 26th, 2018

  • Woman World by Aminder Dhaliwal - A humorous webcomic about a world where all men have died out serves as a jumping-off point for a discussion of SF imagines (or fails to imagine) changes in how we define gender roles and gender itself. December 19th, 2018

  • A People's Future of the United States, edited by Victor LaValle and John Joseph Adams - This anthology in which genre authors are invited to imagine the future of America offers a myriad different approaches to the question, as well as an opportunity to consider the role of short fiction in SF's most vibrant experiments. April 5th, 2019

  • Years and Years - This Russell T. Davies miniseries follows a middle-class British family over the next decade, imaginign them confronting calamities from climate change to creeping fascism, and along the way insisting on the necessity of standing up for the type of world we want to live in. August 9th, 2019

  • Severance - In the Apple TV+ series, office workers undergo a procedure that separates them into two distinct personalities, one of whom is conscious during work hours and the other outside them. I talk about how science fiction grapples with class (or more often, fails to), how dystopia is often just a matter of taking things that were already happening and imagining them happening to the privileged, and the trope of "self-enslavement." April 21st, 2022

  • The Tech Billionaire - An overview of the way that science fiction has depicted the figure of the inventor-entrepreneur, and how that figure filtered back into reality in the internet era. September 13th, 2023


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